51 days until Election Day
Hillary Rodham met Bill Clinton in 1971. What strikes me about their story is the admission that they were attracted to the other's confidence. Smarts. Spirit. With this kind of attraction, a partnership can survive a variety of challenges, even the push-pull of success. While one steps into the spotlight, the other accepts the supporting role, and at a later point in time, they'll switch places. This trade-off can happen many times over before the pair recognizes the cycle. And the cycle doesn't exclude upset or disappointment or failure. But tough times only spark new beginnings and fresh starts. Did these two somehow know there would be amazing high points and heart-breaking lows? Did they know that controversy often turns up when one's large and small moments are lived in full view? I'd say that in some subtle, nuanced way they did understand their future. Especially Hillary. Things were changing for women..things NEEDED to change for women...but the writing was on the wall. It was going to be a rough-go and she would soon be a politician's wife. In the south. Where women were expected to look, sound, and behave a certain way. Hillary decided to go forward anyway, which says something about the heart and the soul of a woman. She must've believed she could have love, a family, and be an equal partner in marriage. And work. And life. But what would her turn in the spotlight look like? Certainly it was difficult to know for sure, and she probably didn't anticipate how troublesome center stage would be for a person who prefers behind-the-scenes work to star performances. Still, Hillary has always had vision. Confident, intelligent, spirited vision. And as the campaigns roll on, I hope this unique and powerful part of her story gets more focus. Because vision always trumps drama.
The zinnia is often called the hardest working flower in the garden. It's also one of the most long-lasting as a cut flower. If Hillary Clinton were a flower, she'd be a zinnia.
Today, once again, the transparency of HRC's campaign is under scrutiny, but this time because of Hillary's health. They ask:
Why didn't she shout from the rooftops that she has pneumonia?
Why didn't she tell the world why she was leaving an event early?
And after her campaign announced she overheated, why didn't she stop and explain it all to reporters?
As a woman who wakes up everyday to symptoms of chronic illness...
As a woman who aims to do what needs doing despite those symptoms...
As a woman who doesn't want to be judged or defined by my aches and pains...
As a woman who sometimes pushes too hard and stumbles, who then must rest...
I take great offense to this so-called news story regarding Hillary's health.
In the end, anyone who is suspicious of why Hillary wouldn't admit to pneumonia, overheating, or any other passing ailment, only needs to look at the response by the media and her opponents to understand why Hillary kept quiet. Immediately it had legs as a mystery, a cover-up. Is she too weak and unfit to work? This is the same ridiculous, outdated, and sexist judgment that women across history have had to endure when their wellness falters.
For some perspective, consider this:
As a young singer, Cyndi Lauper, pushed her voice to the point of damage. For years, she struggled with resting, as her vocal coach advised, and it took time to accept her limits. She kept this problem secret for most of her career, and now 68, she admits that she continued to overdo it from time to time because she didn't want to be dismissed as incapable. The good news is she still tours today, singing her heart out, but with control and wisdom.
A few years ago, I heard Judy Blume speak at a writing conference. She explained how, as young woman, she had frustrating and debilitating chronic pain. She carried on, as a wife, a mother, and even took up writing. Eventually, she came out on the other side of illness and she credits the continued pursuit of her creative goals. Later, she overcame both cervical and breast cancer, and with each of these illnesses, she didn't go public until it felt right to do so. Today, Blume is 78 and just published another book.
I could list many other examples of modern woman, aging woman, woman who get sick from time to time, who keep going, who stop and rest, who don't tell the whole goddamned world their private health business, and all these women end up succeeding at what they set out to accomplish.
So, dear skeptics, back off. Give us room. Because illnesses come and go, but the bright bloom of our efforts last and last and last.
61 days until Election Day
To be nobody-but-yourself in a world
which is doing it best,
night and day,
to make you everybody but yourself
--means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight--
and never stop fighting.
photo credit: Sygma/Corbis
62 days until Election Day
We can start now, start slowly, changing the world. How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make a contribution toward introducing justice straightaway. And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness.
photo credit: Sygma/Corbis
66 days until Election Day
In 1965, Hillary began her freshman year at Wellesley College. She ended up serving as the President of the Wellesley Young Republicans, but by her junior year her views became more liberal and Democratic. Still, unlike many youth in the 60s, who adopted the stance of radical activism, Hillary decided on affecting change from within and joined student government.
When she graduated in 1969, she became the first student to speak at a commencement, receiving a long standing ovation. This gained some media coverage, which she handled well. Learning this, I was struck by a thought:
It's said that Hillary's work ethic and drive for positive change are innate, but it's also nice to find early examples where she so successfully presented herself to her audience. To the public. Why? Because today, there are questions like:
Where is she? Is she hiding from the current opposition and criticisms? Or is she avoiding the public because she's unwell, frail? Or does she care more about fundraising than answering to her audiences or the press?
My guess is she's doing what's innate to her...working hard to make great changes from within.
Look, the truth about Hillary Clinton is written in her past. She has little patience for nonsense (like continued alarm over emails or sexist acquisitions about her health) and she'll probably always be more comfortable in small groups than large gatherings. And because colleagues on both sides of the aisle describe her fair-minded nature and good sense of humor while doing business with her, it seems foolish to worry about her public image. Or the fundraising. Because, for the moment, the political process includes spending money and at least she does what needs doing, liking it or not, so she can get on with winning an election we need her to win.